People have been telling me to read this book for a looooooong time, and I wish I would have listened sooner! I love vampire stories of all kinds, and I especially love when an author steps away from the traditional mythology and mixes things up. In this story, for example, vampirism is caused by a parasite. The name “peeps” is, in fact, short/slang for “parasite positive.” This means that vampirism is contagious and can be spread from person to person like any other parasite — kind of like a supernatural STD. One of the other really cool thing about vampirism in this story is how Westerfeld explains vampires’ aversion to crucifixes and other religious symbols. Vampires suffer from “anathema,” which means that they start to hate anything familiar (anything that reminds them of their former life) as soon as the parasite takes hold. In the Middle Ages, when many people were strict Catholics, the crucifix was a very common anathema. This led to the popular misconception that all vampires fear crucifixes. Very cool! I’m not saying that other authors don’t put as much thought into their vampire stories. (I know better than that.) It’s just that a whole new spin on vampirism is a very cool way of interweaving old myths and new explanations while meeting all new characters at the same time!